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In re: estate of Jose Yap Siong, deceased. Maria Lao and Jose Lao vs.

Dee Tim, Yap Kim Ting, et.al.


GR No. L-21017. 25 February 1924

FACTS:
 Herein petitioners and the respondents are claiming to be the legitimate heirs of Yap Siong and entitled to his estate.
 Petitioner: claims to be the legitimate widow of Yap Siong, having been legally joined to him in holy wedlock on the
24th day of June, 1903, in the Philippine Islands and that Jose Lao is a legitimate child born of that marriage.
 Respondents: claims that she and Yap Siong were joined in the holy wedlock on the 14th day of September, 1893, in
accordance with the laws of China, and that the said Yap Kim Ting, Yap Kim Seng, and Yap Hu Cho were
her legitimate children born of that wedlock.
 To support their respective contention, the parties presented their positive proof of marriage. Petitioner presented, among
others, certificates of marriage; while respondent presented a certificate of marriage as well showing that it complied with the
custom and practice in China. Additionally, respondent presented several witnesses.
 To overcome such evidence of respondent, petitioner presented a letter allegedly from the uncle of the deceased urging the latter
to marry, hence, deceased was unmarried when petitioned and Yap Siong contracted their marriage. However, the Court found
such letter as fabricated.
 Accordingly, the court found after hearing the case that a preponderance of the evidence shows that both Dee Tim and Maria Lao
were legally married to Yap Siong in good faith, believing that each was his sole and separate wife, living in absolute ignorance of
the fact of his double marriage. They were each married in good faith and in ignorance of the existence of the other marriage.
Yap Siong up to the time of his death seems to have been successful in keeping each of his two wives ignorant of the fact that he
was married to the other.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the estate of Yap Siong be divided between the two families.

HELD:
Yes, the Court held that under the Leyes de Partidas, where two women innocently and in good faith are legally united in holy
matrimony to the same man, their children born will be regarded as legitimate children and each family will be entitled to one-half of
the estate of the husband upon distribution of his estate.

- That provision of the Leyes de Partidas is a very humane and wise law. It justly protects those who innocently have entered
into the solemn relation of marriage and their descendants. The good faith of all the parties will be presumed until the
contrary is positively proved. (Article 69, Civil Code; Las Leyes de Matrimonio, section 96; Gaines vs. Hennen, 65 U.S., 553.)

- A woman who is deceived by a man who represents himself as single and who marries him, she and her children born while
the deception lasted, under the Spanish Law, are entitled to all the rights of a legitimate wife and children.
o The common law allowing none of the incidents of a true marriage to follow another marriage entered into during
the continuance of a first, was early found to work a great injustice upon the innocent parties to the second marriage,
and specially upon the offspring of such second marriage.
o To remedy that hardship under the common law and following the wise jurisprudence of Spain, both England and
many of the states of the United States adopted statutes.

- The foregoing conclusions in no way conflict with the decision of this court in the case of Sy Joc Lieng vs. Encarnacion (16
Phil., 137) nor with the decision of Adong vs. Cheong Seng Gee (43 Phil., 43), for the reason that in each of said cases a
preponderance of the evidence showed that no legal marriage had been performed in China, that is, that the alleged Chinese
wife and the deceased in each of those cases had never been legally married.